SAN FRANCISCO -- Major League Baseball is studying the implementation of a seven-day phase to the disabled list specifically to accommodate players who suffer concussions. A special committee will analyze the impact of head injuries this offseason and may make a recommendation on the subject. If recommended, the new rule then would have to be approved by Commissioner Bud Selig and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Currently, players with any injury must be placed on the disabled list for a minimum of 15 days. "According to medical experts, most concussions suffered by players resolve within four-to-six days," said a document provided by the Commissioner's office. "By creating a seven-day DL, clubs can replace the players while they recover, and any incentive to rush the player back because the club is playing short is eliminated."
Many sports leagues have taken a closer look at head injuries and their very serious aftermath -- post-concussion syndrome. Neuro physicians have discovered that the number of concussions suffered by a person is directly related to the length of the recovery period. The greater the number of concussions, the longer it takes to recover. Twins first baseman Justin Morneau suffered a concussion prior to the All-Star Game and missed the rest of the season as he recovered from the side effects -- among them dizziness, nausea and lack of focus. Former Giants and Cardinals catcher Mike Metheny had so many concussions that his career ultimately ended because he couldn't recover enough from symptoms to play again. Doctors also say there's a line that can be crossed when damage may become permanent. Other players whose careers have ended early because of multiple concussions include National Football League quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman, and National Hockey League stars Pat LaFontaine and Eric Lindros. In its pursuit of studying concussions, MLB has retained the services of Dr. Alex Valadka, the Chief of Adult Neurosciences and Chief of Neurotrauma, Seton Brain and Spine Institute, Austin, Texas. Dr. Valadka led a session on concussions for all MLB doctors and athletic trainers during the 2009 Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, and will head the special committee studying specific concussion protocols, including the seven-day DL, this offseason. That committee will also include MLB team doctors and athletic trainers, plus outside experts. Dr. Valadka is available to all 30 teams as a consultant and engages in concussion education. This season, the league distributed a concussion awareness pamphlet to umpires, and a similar pamphlet will be distributed to players next season.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.